Former Gov. Paterson endorses Latimer over Bowman in bruising NY-16 primary race

Former New York Gov. David Paterson, the state’s first Black governor, endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Wednesday in his primary challenge against Rep. Jamaal Bowman, one of the state’s most competitive races this year.

Paterson announced his endorsement in a community room in Co-op City, a sprawling residential complex in the Bronx portion of the recently redrawn 16th Congressional District that has a significant share of Black voters and usually boasts relatively high voter turnout. It was the latest in a string of announcements of support for Latimer from the local Democratic establishment and came after Latimer’s campaign outraised Bowman’s roughly 2-to-1 last quarter, according to public records. Bowman has a national profile and received the backing of a key Democrat last week: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“He doesn’t run around trying to get attention, he just tries to get things done,” Paterson said of Latimer. “And in this era … are we going to continue the habits of too many people who are in public service? Are we going to raise hopes that can’t be fulfilled, make promises that can’t be kept?”

Both candidates have come to symbolize the Democratic Party’s split on the Israel-Hamas war. Bowman has aligned himself with a vocal antiwar contingent calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, while Latimer, who has the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has taken a pro-Israel stance and condemned Bowman’s comments on the war.

Bowman’s campaign declined to comment on Paterson’s endorsement of Latimer. Co-op City’s return to the district, which stretches deep into southern Westchester, was widely viewed as a win for the incumbent congressmember. Bowman’s allies fought for Co-op City’s inclusion in the redrawn district after a lengthy redistricting process.

Paterson demurred when he was asked if any policy differences with Bowman played into his decision to endorse Latimer, and said he had also “pushed the envelope” as an elected official.

“I’m not going to speak against anyone who actually prefers to do it that way, but I think at this particular time, we’ve got to find people who can come up with some workable and sensible and achievable ways to change the dynamic for the people who live in our districts,” Paterson said.

He also echoed an earlier characterization by Latimer of Jeffries’ decision to endorse Bowman.

“I think whenever you’re the leader of a conference, you’re going to endorse the incumbent, unless the incumbent is George Santos,” Paterson said, drawing laughter from the audience.

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